How to Write a Progress Report

When a company initiates a new project, it needs to be aware of how the project is progressing, what findings and decisions are being made by the project team, and what needs to be improved. In order to provide the company’s supervisors with such information, progress reports are usually written. Generally speaking, a progress report is an update on a project’s status. A well-written progress report is beneficial both for the company and for you. The company gets accurate real-time information and you can count on adequate staffing and financial assistance with the project that you are working on.

Steps for Writing a Progress Report

  1. Write the heading of your progress report. This usually contains the date, when the report was submitted, the name and the position of the recipient, the writer’s name and position, and the subject of the report.
  2. Compose the introductory section. In this part, you must brief about the project. Then, you should provide readers with information about the project’s purpose, clarify its timescale, and remind readers about other important details.
  3. Write the “work completed” section. In this section, you must describe what work has already been done. One of the best ways to do this is to order the completed tasks chronologically. Make two columns. In one of them, specify dates and in another one, specify tasks that you and your team were working on. Information about key findings should also be included in the “work completed” section.
  4. In the next section, specify the problems that your team encountered while working on the project. Provide explanations of how you solved them or how you are planning to do it. Also, describe any changes caused by these problems and state whether any assistance on the project is required.
  5. Provide your supervisors with information about how you are planning to move forward with the project. Make an outline of future tasks that need to be accomplished during a certain period. Specify dates that will be deadlines for the tasks.
  6. Summarize your progress report. In the summary section, you should only give the most essential details about the completed and to-do work. Also include a short description of problems that your team encountered and recommendations for their correction.

Topic Selection

The topic of a progress report is usually determined by recent work that you and your team have done. However, when composing a progress report, each time you schedule your work and outline tasks for the next period of time, you actually assign topics for your next reporting document.

Key Points to Consider

  1. Progress reports come in different formats, such as a brief verbal report, a periodic email sent to your supervisors, a memo, or a formal written report with a clearly defined structure. Internal progress reports can be submitted in memo format, while reports from one external organization to another can take the form of a business letter.
  2. Progress reports not only inform supervisors about a project’s status, but they also affect the decision-making process. A company’s management may revise, adjust or change their decisions according to a particular situation with the project.
  3. A progress report should be project-centered, which means it should refer to the work done by your team and not to the plans or expectations of your supervisors.
  4. A progress report should be simple and concise. Avoid writing lengthy, heavyweight documents. In most cases, a progress report is submitted on 2-3 pages.
  5. A progress report not only provides decision-makers with necessary information, but it also shows them what kind of specialist you are.

Do and Don’t

Do

  • Do be specific when writing a progress report. Making vague statements or being emotional in the progress report is not what supervisors will appreciate.
  • Do use active voice in the “work completed” section. This will help you reinforce the impression that you and your team were busy and made significant efforts.
  • Do be consistent when writing progress reports. Once you’ve submitted a report in a specific format, stick to it in following reports.
  • Do use a variety of graphics such as charts, tables or diagrams. Use color markers to denote different statuses or importance levels of certain clauses. Organize the information presented in your report in the way that can be easily perceived and comprehended.
  • Do cite sources from which you have taken data and give credits to all photos included in the report.
Don’t

  • Don’t turn the “work completed” section into a narrative story of how the work on the research has been conducted. Stick to specifying only the most important information such as the key findings and the outcomes.
  • Don’t ever make excuses or try to shift blame on someone else when issues arise. There may be legitimate issues, such as a late delivery from a supplier or an equipment malfunction, but don’t sound as if you are complaining or avoiding responsibility.
  • Don’t report that the work is completed until you’ve actually finished it, even if you need to do one small activity to accomplish the task. Various unforeseen obstacles may prevent you from performing the task so that your supervisors will consider it finished when it’s not.
  • Don’t forget to provide solutions to the problems described in the corresponding section.
  • Don’t be wordy in the summary section. Stress only key points and leave out unnecessary details.

Common Mistakes When Writing a Progress Report

- Using expressive words and phrases to characterize the situation. Describing a project’s status as a “complete catastrophe” or a “giddy success” is too vague and won’t be of use for supervisors.

- Being irregular with sending progress reports to supervisors. Most likely, they will expect you to send reports in equal time intervals.

- Glossing over problems and understating their prevalence, hoping to solve them secretly. Always provide adequate and honest information about all issues that occur during the work on the project.

- Turning a progress report into a lengthy document. Don’t supersaturate the document with excessive details, research digests, calculations, and so on.

Now that you have acquainted yourself with the basic progress report essay writing tips and rules, you can check out our progress report samples to link theory with practice.

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Samples for Progress Report

Progress Report Sample

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Progress Report Sample

New Store Expansion of Midnight Bookstores in Greenlake Date: June 1st, 2013 To: Leonard Hoven From: Wendell Summers - Supervisor for Company Expansion Subject: Progress of New Store in Greenlake Midnight Bookstores opened its firs...
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Questions for Progress Report